REGINA: Three unions representing 25,000 health care providers in the province say the government’s public service essential services legislation is having a harmful effect on contract negotiations.
The CUPE Health Care Council, which represents 12,500 health care providers in five health regions, started bargaining with the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations in September. SEIU followed in October and SGEU just recently exchanged proposals.
“We’ve been at the bargaining table for three months but have little to show for it,” says CUPE Health Council President Gordon Campbell.
The employers, represented by the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations, are demanding major concessions at the table. Although that’s happened in previous bargaining rounds, Campbell says this time SAHO is refusing to “move” off those demands.
“The essential services legislation has given all the power to the employer,” says Campbell. “Without the potential for job action, SAHO appears to have little interest in negotiating a fair agreement,” he says.
Once bargaining began with CUPE, SAHO and the regional health authorities requested additional dates to discuss essential services, a requirement of the legislation.
The essential services discussions, originally scheduled for three days, now threaten to derail contract talks, as health regions have tabled massive documents designating virtually every service provided by health providers as “essential” – from music therapy programs to library services.
“We need a better process to conclude an agreement because this isn’t productive or fair,” says CUPE Health Care Council President Gordon Campbell.
Campbell stressed health care providers want to bargain a fair agreement. He suggested the government set aside the requirement they negotiate essential services agreements – as they did at another public sector bargaining table – and allow them to focus on negotiating fair settlements for health care workers.”
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Contact: Gordon Campbell: 306 539-0661